(Four versus Three on the Same Flank: Part 2-Defense)
In the previous article we saw the dangers that the defender faces in these seemingly easy endgames.
If you remember, the main one was that the strong side might create a passed pawn in the center, and then combine threats against the remaining two pawns with the further advance of the passer.
Logically, we come to the most important part for the weaker side- the choice of the correct defensive set up.
1) The Classical Set Up
This is when you place your rook pawn on the fourth (fifth) rank (h4 or h5 if you play as Black), the g-pawn one step behind it for support, and leave the f pawn on the second (seventh) rank.
Thus, you take away the sting of the plan of the creation of a passed pawn from your opponent, as they will have to trade too many pawns in order to achieve a passer. Pawn exchanges are always useful for the defender:
2) Huebner's Set Up
This defensive stand is similar to the Classical one, with the only difference being the more aggressive advance of the f pawn. Please, note though, that it is not always effective. If the king of the strong side is active, the position of the pawn on f4(f5) might in fact be lethal for the defender, as the king can march on the weakened squares to wrap up the game. An active rook which keeps the king busy would help:
Not everything is lost if you cannot advance your corner pawn to the fourth(fifth) rank. It is good enough if you have rook control on that rank, as you might be able to support the advance, or force other trades as in this case:
If the strong side manages to fix your rook pawn on the sixth (third) or seventh (second) rank, the situation becomes extremely complex, but a successful defense is still possible. You will need though some more advanced tips, and they will be the subject of another article. The most important and basic set-ups were given here already, and the main ideas- pawn trades and active rook highlighted.
3) With Damaged Pawns
I would also like to add, that if the pawn on the g-file has moved to the f-file, and the defender has doubled f-pawns instead of f+g+h, this usually does not change the evaluation of the position as an objective draw. In this case the defender has additional convenient squares for the king on the g-file, and can still trade a lot of pawns to liquidate into a theoretically drawn endgame:
One thing is for certain, even if something goes wrong and you lose a pawn, there are always chances that you liquidate into a defendable rook endgame. These ones are good enough to hold.